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Archive for November, 2004

THE NARROWS – Alligator (LP/CD, Wäntage USA/Tapes Records WAN032)

Posted: November 4th, 2004, by Simon Minter

Remember ‘slowcore’? You know, Codeine, Red House Painters, Bedhead, Low, all o’ that stuff? Langurous, stretched-out melancholia with an undercurrent of anger and noise? The Narrows are still ploughing that nicely miserable furrow, and this release (a compilation of two previously-released albums) proves that they’re on the button with the dangerous combination of fuzz-drenched guitar and long, slow songs.

It is, naturally, maudlin as fuck, but you have to love that. I’ve always thought that the saddest of sad songs have a weirdly uplifting effect, and when that’s combined with outbursts of guitar noise and minor-key melodies stretched taut over many minutes (as on this release) the result is a winner. Let’s sum it up with an incredible cliche: “perfect music for evenings spent alone”. Yeah, this is hardly party-party music. But parties are overrated anyway.

By the way, the vinyl version is packaged in a gatefold sleeve featuring a pop-up crocodile. In case you get too depressed.

poolorpond.net/thenarrows.html
www.wantageusa.com
www.tapesrecords.com

GOD HELP US

Posted: November 4th, 2004, by Chris Summerlin

GOD HELP US

HOOKERS GREEN NO.1 – On How The Illustrious Captain Moon Won The War For Us (Snowstorm)

Posted: November 3rd, 2004, by Marceline Smith

Sometimes I feel very lucky and getting a free copy of this album was one of those times. Ever since I finally dared to listen to their demo, having been convinced they were utter mentalists from the letter they sent with it, I’ve been hugging their songs to my heart (not literally). Hookers Green sound like they practice in a barn in the middle of a field, full of chickens and fog. It’s no surprise that they come from Aberdeen; music like this can only be made by people with an understanding of boredom and cold winds and the comedy of Doric. So, yes, there’s a lot of oddness and whimsy in this album. The song titles would give it away if nothing else although these do complement the charming oddities and whimsies of the songs themselves. With sad, mumbled vocals and tumbling melodies the songs are filled with dreams and thoughts and memories. There’s also piano, multi percussion and, best of all, a brass section lending an air of ambition and confidence to these sometimes ramshackle creations, building epics out of passing thoughts. There’s so much going on in every song – time changes, pauses for thought and hidden bubbling rhythms. At the moment I’m in love with The Strobe Adventurer, almost five minutes of skip happy joy where my ears can barely keep up with each new twist of direction, and the title track’s love song sounding both fearful and quietly, secretly happy. Someone please give them millions of pounds so they can develop into total loons and make quadruple vinyl concept albums while buying remote islands to live on.

www.hookersgreen.com
www.snowstormrecords.com

John Peel

Posted: November 3rd, 2004, by Marceline Smith

I read this lovely tribute to John Peel on Tangents today at work and it touched me greatly. I expect it’s a story that many of us will recognise from similar experiences but to me it really summed up what was so great about Peel and his shows. Go read and enjoy.

LE FORCE – Le Fortress (CD, Wäntage USA WAN029)

Posted: November 3rd, 2004, by Simon Minter

I love Wäntage USA, they seem to have a constant stream of hard rockin’ albums to share with us and never let up on the quality or determination which flies out of the speakers. Le Force are described as a ‘chrome plated predatory falcon’ on the label’s website, and that’s a pretty good description – they’re sleek, dangerous, erratic, and have small brains. No offence.

To my metal-illiterate ears this album reminds me immediately of the Fucking Champs; a (generally) vocals-free selection of super-tight riffs and mock-prog NWOBHM ‘explorations’. So in here we’ve got the devil-horn-sign metal rock (‘We may belong to you… but our souls belong to Satan’) through like, uh, deep music, dude (‘Sometimes everybody needs a tissue (trilogy)’) and right back to foot-on-monitor, hair-in-face, angular (both in shape and sound) guitars firing out missiles of rock’n’roll (‘The last nail in my coffin’). And nobody can argue with simple rock’n’roll in the crazed (Bush-led) world of today.

www.le-force.com
www.wantageusa.com

SCOUT NIBLETT – Bush Hall, London

Posted: November 1st, 2004, by Chris Summerlin

I went to London to see Scout Niblett open for Giant Sand at the beautiful Bush Hall. The beer cost a fortune and Scout played early but she floored me. She lived here in Nottingham for a while and up round these parts she seems to divide people’s opinion into polar opposites. An idiot that I know practically spits fire at her name. Seems to be mainly the ladies that have problems too. But jealousy is a green eyed monster and all that. Tonight John Parish formerly of PJ Harveys band plays drums on a couple of unrehearsed things, but its really just about Emma. The choice of songs is fairly dark and is centred around the noisy distorted guitar stuff she’s been doing more of and at times it’s really harsh and bare and a little uncomfortable. She plays the song about cheerleaders and when she gets to the part about wanting a cheerleader to “cheer me up, cheer me on” I was struck dumb by an urge to cry my guts out and had to hold my breath to make it pass and in doing so a large piece of snot squirted down my face. I think if you know anybody who dismisses Scout as a rip off of (for example) Cat Power then you should not be their friend anymore. They are reducing two people’s art to the lowest denominator – in this case tonal similarities and the fact they’re both women. See, Chan Marshall makes narratives and Scout plays with words until they’re the most simple statement they can be and thats why her songs knock you dead. This is the most minimal music there is, no words are wasted. It’s straight to the gut and whether she’s playing loud guitar or bashing the drums it still has the same effect because its always that sharp and that clear.

We are blessed!

Scout Niblett

DEAD MEADOW – Shivering King And Others

Posted: November 1st, 2004, by Chris Summerlin

Last Thursday night I broke my tooth on a single Pickled Onion Space Raider that I stole from a bands dressing room. It served me right. I then got involved in a conversation of positively cosmic proportions about the religious act of smoking weed. When I got back to my hosts house he put the first track of this album on. It is called “I Love You Too”.

On Saturday my friend made a hearty leek and potato soup. It was THICK. But it was tasty and nourishing. It was more than soup.

“I Love You Too” is like being totally monged, lying on your back and having gallons of this thick brew gently poured into your mouth and it slopping over your nostrils and eyes. In slow motion. But it has a riff that is so colossal that for me to climb to this level of WEIGHT I would have to strap a microwave to my ball bag for a week just to get my nuts to hang this low.

And then they kill you with “Babbling Flower” which steps it all up a gear in pace like the first track was your invite and now you are totally along for the ride.

Best bit about the Meadow is they are exactly as geeky as me. They dress in a manner that makes me look like Ian Astbury from the fucking Cult. But their riffs are just so grossly, sloppily sick. “Me and the Devil Blues” is so heavy its perverted and the guitar echoes like its being played standing on top of a mountain which I like to think it was.

They do that Zep thing too where they build the intensity up and then hit you with a quiet folky jam to just cool you down. Don’t be tempted to program these tunes out on the CD player as you will actually die if you listen to all the rockers on this record in one go.

And all their albums are this good.

BRYAN ADAMS – Summer Of 69

Posted: November 1st, 2004, by Chris Summerlin

This is the worst song ever recorded. Even worse than “Another Day In Paradise” by Phil Collins. In my temp job I listen to Classic Gold all day and they play this fucking shitrag every single day. Sometimes twice.

When the gravel-throated Canadian sings “I got my first real six string” I have taken to running at high speed into the toilets to conceal my utter embarassment on his behalf. Yesterday I returned a little early and heard the bit about the boys from the band trying “real hard” and I involuntarily began trying to remove my head with a plastic sandwich knife.

I hate this song more than war and if I ever met Bryan Adams I would kick his fucking arse for writing it.